Effects of Alcohol and Nicotine Use

The Effects of Alcohol and Nicotine Use Tobacco and alcohol use are common addictions amongst Americans. Each of these products are easily accessible at any convenience store and are perceived to be pleasurable activities as a result of their prevalence in American society. Both drugs also have significantly adverse effects on an individual’s health and overall well-being. However, tobacco and alcohol consumption are quite different in the nature of the addiction, and the risks each drug pose to one’s health. Tobacco has been present even before the establishment of America.

In 1492, Christopher Columbus was offered dried tobacco leaves from the Native Americans he encountered. By 1600, tobacco was used for its assumed healing qualities and was often used as currency. Not until 1826 was the pure form of nicotine finally discovered and labeled a dangerous poison. During the 1980’s, many lawsuits were filed against tobacco companies because of the harmful effects of their products. Smoking became politically incorrect and more businesses began to prohibit smoking on their premises.

Despite this, cigarette consumption in America is still common. Today, Marlboro is considered one of the most valuable brands of any product in the world, valued at over 30 billion dollars. (NCSU Libraries) Although the supposed health benefits of tobacco have been promoted by both a variety of cultures and corporations alike, the physical effects of nicotine on the body are now indisputable. In as little as ten minutes after consumption, nicotine can raise blood pressure, heart rate, and constrict blood vessels,thus increasing the chance of heart attack and stroke.

Habitual use has been linked to cancer of the lung, throat, mouth, esophagus, bladder, cervix, kidney, larynx, and stomach. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) Even casual use is accompanied by increased coughing, congestion, fatigue, and shortness of breath. Aside from the havoc wrought internally from the frequent use of tobacco, it also causes negative changes to one’s physical appearance. These changes include, but are not limited to, tooth decay, gingivial recession, halitosis, stained fingers, and an unpleasant odor on one’s person. University Health Center at the University of Georgia) According to the American Heart Association, in as little as one cigarette, a user may be addicted to nicotine. Nicotine addiction is recognized by the uncontrollable cravings to consume tobacco products. An addict may feel anxious about the next time they are able to use, and may be very irritable until their craving has been satisfied. As a user decreases their use of tobacco, they begin to withdrawal. Indications of withdrawal are different for each individual.

A person will generally be cantankerous, and may suffer physical ailments, such as headaches, nausea, and cold like symptoms. Increased appetite, impaired work performance, and depression are additional symptoms linked to nicotine withdrawal. (National Library of Medicine) Alcohol has been a prevalent substance in human culture since 6400 B. C. According to Dr. William L. Smith, excavated clay jugs dating back to neolithic periods suggest the intentional fermentation of alcohol. Alcohol most likely originated in Middle Eastern regions, and was used primarily for its healing, antiseptic and religious purposes, often as a gift to the divine.

Alcohol has always been a part of American culture, as it was first brought over by English settlers. One of the first laws regarding alcohol was passed in early seventeenth century Virginia. The law prohibited public drunkenness, as it was a threat to society. Though, the first alcohol related laws did not prohibit the substance itself. In 1920, National Prohibition took effect, consequently the 18th Amendment of the United States Constitution. However, in 1933, the 21st Amendment repealed the prohibition, legalizing the creation, sale, and consumption of alcohol. WWW2 Webserver) Laws in regards to alcohol had to be placed into effect in order to ensure the safety of America’s people. Whether or not the alcohol use is routine, the array of symptoms that may be exhibited have the opportunity to be devastating to the user and to the public.

In one night of drinking, the intoxicated individual has already put themselves at risk for alcohol poisoning, miscarriage, violence, and death. One of the least tolerated criminal offenses of today is driving while intoxicated (DWI), or driving under the influence (DUI), which is defined by a blood alcohol content level over . 8%. A few sips of an alcoholic beverage can debilitate the driver, causing them to careen in and out of lanes, run red lights, and other dangerous driving practices. Alcohol is also a common factor in regards to risky sexual behaviors. The impaired ability to make responsible decisions increases the chance of accidental pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. Heavy alcohol use over the lifetime causes annihilating physical and psychiatric damage to the body. The user becomes at risk for a variety of health issues, including cirrhosis, dementia, liver disease, and stroke.

Long term use also puts the individual at risk for mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon cancer. While the internal damage is taking place, the individual is slowly using their ability to function in society. The daily drunken stupor or hangover prohibits the person from excelling in the work place and in the classroom. Stomach pain, headache, and irritability are common symptoms that hinder the usefulness of the individual. If these characteristics persist, job loss and expulsion will occur. Aside from the regression of skills and potential successes, an alcoholic will induce detriment upon their family and friends. Center for Disease Control and Prevention) Alcoholism is, according to the University of Maryland Medical center, a “chronic, often progressive disease in which a person craves alcohol and drinks despite repeated alcohol related problems, like losing a job or a relationship. ” The disease is often accompanied by a significantly high tolerance to alcohol, drinking in order to feel “good” again. An addict may sneak or hide drinks, plan activities around drinking, or drink to escape life’s hassles. Family and friends of the victim may notice personality changes, mood swings, and broken promises.

The addict may feel troubled by how much they are consuming, and may be quick to defend themselves with confrontations regarding their drinking habits. When an alcoholic is unable to drink as much as need be, they suffer from physical withdrawal symptoms that inhibit them from feeling well. Nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety, are all common signs of alcohol withdrawal. Insomnia, hand tremors, and fatigue are additional symptoms that may be experienced. (University of Maryland Medical Center) Alcohol and tobacco products are commonly used in not only American society, but in cultures around the globe.

They have each continued to be advertised as enjoyable experiences, thus their social acceptability. Despite their prevalence and media allure, scientific evidence is irrefutable. Single and habitual use of nicotine and alcohol both affect the body in significantly negative ways. These substances are both linked to a variety of cancers, amongst other health issues. The forgo of these drugs results in mild to severe emotional discomfort. Typical behaviors include depression, irritability and apprehension. In addition, visible cues such as sweating and shakiness are common in withdrawal.

Based upon scientific study, alcohol and tobacco use are practices not to be taken lightly. Their toxic effects on the human body are disregarded in American culture, however, it is imperative that every user understands each substance in its entirety. A nicotine addiction is quite different from an alcohol dependency, as nicotine seems to be primarily a physically unhealthy habit, and alcohol becomes a lifestyle. Nonetheless, each addiction is completely detrimental to one’s health, and all risks should be considered before taking that first sip or smoke.

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